Posts tagged ‘Muslims’

09/12/2011

911: Are We Still Missing The Boat?

On the 10th Anniversary of Sept. 11, while the broadcast media repeatedly showed videos of planes crashing into buildings, along with survivor interviews and memorials, they failed once again to seriously examine why 911 happened in the first place.

Americans have no trouble recalling 911. They are painfully aware of the airport and government security measures implemented since then, and know international communications and finance are now under surveillance.

What they still do not know, however, because no one has explained it to them, is why 20, mostly Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes on Sep. 11, 2001, and set out to crash them into buildings, for the purpose of killing as many us as possible.

Until we learn what motivated the attackers, we will never understand the enemy, or eliminate the threat they pose. While the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) may take some small security measures at home, they will never make us completely safe, since they do not address the root causes of the problem.

So what was it that bothered the 911 attackers so much that they were willing to become kamikaze pilots? The answer begins with our one-sided bi-partisan U.S. foreign policy that blindly supports Israel, and angers many Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims.

Americans would be safer at home if we stopped supplying Israel with weapons that end up killing Palestinians. We would be safer if our Navy abandoned the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. We would be safer if we withdrew all of our ground forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations in the Mideast and Persian Gulf.

Since the special interests that finance our political campaigns are not going to support candidates willing to withdraw from the Mideast, the U.S. is not going to stop angering the nations of Islam. Consequently, more enemies will unintentionally be recruited, and more will eventually succeed in doing harm to us.

Once we understand every event has a cause, and know why Sep. 11 occurred, we can eliminate the factors that led to it, and only then return to a secure environment, free of the fear of another 911.

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06/15/2011

Republican Debate New Hamp (6-13-11)

Seven Republicans answered questions on CNN on June 13 in their first presidential debate. Four of the seven are unlikely to get the nomination, because voters usually pick Governors or Senators, who have had statewide experience. Since House members Bachmann, Paul, and Gingrich have not served an entire state, and Cain has not held any office, they are not credible candidates. Of the three with credentials, former Sen. Santorum was beaten badly in a re-election bid in Pennsylvania, and he is damaged cargo. This leaves only two plausible candidates: former Gov. Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Romney of Massachusetts.

Before addressing Pawlenty and Romney, let’s examine what the party stands for by reviewing the statements of the others.

CAIN opposed auto industry loans that successfully saved GM and Chrysler, along with countless jobs. He supports Ryan’s voucher plan, which would destroy Medicare, as we know it. He would phase out Social Security Retirement, the most popular government program ever implemented. He would single out Muslims, in violation of the 1st Amendment, and would solve a problem that does not exist, by baring Sharia Law in U.S. Courts.

BACHMANN would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (yes, she really said this). She opposed government loans that prevented the recent Great Recession from becoming a Great Depression. She opposes the right to abortion. She criticized President Obama for working with allies like France, as to Libya.

GINGRICH would dismantle the National Labor Relations Board. He would not pay Medicare “crooks,” as he put it. He supports unconstitutional loyalty oaths for Muslims.

RON PAUL, usually an interesting man, would have denied government assistance to all private enterprise. He said average retirees draw three times as much as they contribute to Medicare, but his numbers need a fact-check. As to Afghanistan, he courageously said he would not duck the issue by waiting for the generals to act; he would pull out now, and would save billions of dollars.

SANTORUM criticized sending jobs overseas, yet he historically supported free trade. He opposed loans to help American industry. He supports the Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, and apparently thinks elderly people will somehow be able to afford private health insurance premiums. He would not close U.S. military bases around the world, as he thinks we need every single one of them.

PAWLENTY opposes unions and labor laws that protect ordinary working people. He thinks Congress created the housing bubble, but did not explain. He supports an unspecified option, other than Medicare. When asked about separating church and state, he left non-believers out of the 1st Amendment, as he referred to “people of faith.” He is proudly pro-life. He would allow the 50 states to have their own immigration laws, even though the constitution clearly delegates naturalization to Congress. He promised to bomb other countries.

ROMNEY opposed the auto industry loans that successfully saved thousands of American jobs, saying he would have let them go bankrupt. He dodged a question about Afghanistan, and cowardly failed to indicate a willingness to withdraw, by saying he would instead defer to generals or conditions on the ground.

As a group, Republicans oppose saving American industry and their jobs. They oppose labor laws that protect ordinary working people. They would repeal environmental protection. They wish to destroy Medicare, as we know it. They appear to be ignorant of the problems with private health insurance. Some would end the Social Security Retirement System. They support a Christian Nation, to the exclusion of other faiths and non-believers. They would discriminate against Muslim-Americans and would require loyalty oaths. They would deny women the liberty to have an abortion. They talk about spending too much, but refuse to close unnecessary military bases around the globe, and promise no end to the waste of tax dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only thing they were really good at was convincing me not to vote for them.

05/30/2011

Bosnia War Crime Trials Must Proceed

The Bosnian War (1992-95), a conflict that has never been easy to explain, is finally moving towards closure, with the arrest in Serbia of Bosnian-Serb military leader Ratko Mladic.

When the former Yugoslavia dissolved into six countries, namely: Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Serbia, some provinces did so in peace, but Bosnia had troubles, because their religions and ethnicities were a Balkanized mix of Bosnian-Muslim, Catholic-Croat, and Orthodox-Serb.

When the Bosnian-Muslims and Bosnian-Croats united to form a Federation, the Bosnian-Serbs set up their own Republika Srpska (RS). This triggered a Civil War (1992-95), during which the Bosnian-Serbs, forcefully removed Bosnian-Croats and Muslims from their homes, in what became known as an ethnic cleansing.

The UN failed to act militarily, because the issue was seen by China and Russia as an internal Yugoslavian affair. The Security Council did however set up the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to prosecute war crimes (1993).

After the Bosnian-Serbs attacked Sarajevo (1994), and under the lead of Ratko Mladic, slaughtered 8,000 defenseless Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica (1995), President Bill Clinton and other NATO country leaders finally used air power to stop the Serbs.

The Dayton Peace Accords (1995) recognized both the Bosnian Muslim-Croat Federation, and the Bosnian-Serb Republic (RS). The Federation now occupies 51% of Bosnia, while the RS Republic controls the other 49%, each with their own laws.

Since the war ended 16 years ago, the remaining task has been to bring justice to the victims, or their families, by prosecuting and convicting those who committed war crimes. Those commanders who ordered or allowed torture or murder, are individually responsible for breaching the rights of prisoners and civilians, under the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

Although it took 16 years to capture Mladic, there is no Statute of Limitations as to murder. After his extradition to the Netherlands, the judge must give him a few months to prepare for trial, but after that, the court must proceed promptly, as justice delayed is justice denied, and thus far, there has been no justice as to Mladic.

04/21/2011

Nigeria: On The Muslim-Christian Divide

Nigeria held a presidential election in which incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the South, sought to continue in office as the replacement for the previous president, who was a Muslim from the North. The issue now is whether the Africans along the Christian-Muslim divide in Nigeria can live in peace?

Africa is divided along the Sahara, between Arabs Muslims and Christian Blacks. Along the north and west side of the divide, 13 nations have large percentages of Muslims: Morocco (99%), Algeria (99%), Tunisia (98%), Libya (97%), Egypt (90%), Somalia (99%), Djibouti (94%), Mauritania (99%), Mali (90%), Niger (80%), Senegal (94%), Gambia (90%) and Guinea (85%).

West Africa also has 3 states where the Muslim percentage is only about half, but they greatly outnumber the Christians: Sierra Leone (60%), Burkina Faso (50%) and Guinea-Bissau (40%).

On the south and east side of the divide, 20 states have few Muslims: South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Angola, Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome, Zambia (5%), Kenya (10%), Swaziland (10%), Burundi (10%), Congo-Kinshasa (10%), Uganda (12%), Malawi (13%), Central African Rep. (15%) and Mozambique (18%).

There are also 2 West African states where Christians greatly outnumber Muslims: Cape Verde and Ghana.

This leaves 11 African Muslim-Christian battleground states, along the sub-Saharan front line, listed below, from west to east:

Country               Muslim            Christian
Liberia                     20%                     40%
Ivory Coast            39%                     33%
Togo                         20%                     29%
Benin                        24%                     43%
Nigeria                     50%                    40%
Cameroon              20%                     35%
Chad                         53%                     34%
Sudan                   Muslim (N)      Christ (S)
Eritrea                      50%                   50%
Ethiopia                   33%                   61%
Tanzania                  35%                   30%

Many battleground states have already had conflicts. Ivory Coast had a 5-year civil war, between Southern Christians and Northern Muslims. Chad had two civil wars of 14 and 10 years, between Northern Muslims and Southern Christians. Eritrea historically was a battleground between the two faiths, and Ethiopia recently had a Holy War against Islamic forces from neighboring Somalia.

Sudan was perhaps the biggest battleground of all, where the Arab Muslims in the North, fought the black Southern Christians for 16 years, and then tried to force them to use the Arabic language and Islamic religion. After another 18 years of war, the Muslims expelled Christian missionaries and imposed Islamic Sharia law, as part of an Arabization policy. Sudan’s ultimate solution was for the Christian South to secede and become an independent state.

What about Nigeria? Will it become a battleground like Sudan, or remain united? It is the largest state in Africa, with 149 million people, and it is evenly split, as to religion and tribal heritage. 50% are Muslims from the northern Hausa Tribe; 40% are Christians from the southern and western Igbo and Yoruba Tribes.

The Nigerian Muslim-Christian conflict has flared on and off for 30 years. Islamic law was imposed in several Northern provinces in 2000, causing Igbo Christians to clash with Hausa Muslims. An Islamic leader from the northeast was assassinated in 2009. Muslims and Christians battled again last year, in the City of Jos.

Unless Nigeria is willing to splinter in two, like North and South Sudan, they will have to allow all Christians and Muslims to enjoy the free exercise of religion, and stop the provinces from establishing official religions. If they wish to remain at peace and united, they will need to respect the viewpoints of all.

04/20/2011

Pakistan Needs Religious Tolerance

The Blasphemy Law in Pakistan caused the murder of Shahbaz Bahtti on March 2, 2011. He was the only Christian in the Pakistani government, serving as Minister of Non-Muslim Minorities. The law also led to the death, on Jan. 4, 2011, of Salman Taseer, the Christian governor of the Punjab Province, whose only crime was his public support for Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death by hanging in Nov 2010, for Blasphemy.

The Pakistani Blasphemy Law carries a possible death sentence. It forbids the wounding the religious feelings of Islamic persons, defiling the Quran, or defaming the prophet Muhammad. Trials are held before Muslim judges. Many people have been charged with Blasphemy and have been prosecuted over the past decades.

Pakistan was created as an Islamic state by Britain, when they segregated the Muslims and Hindus of India into two nations (1947). A decade later, the young nation formally became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (1956). They later integrated Islamic Sharia law into their legal code (1991). Now, it is being used in the provinces. In the Waziristan Province, for example, it was adopted in exchange for a ceasefire from Islamic militants (2008).

Unfortunately, an accused in Pakistan has no American-style First Amendment, barring the Establishment of Religion. There is no way to declare the Blasphemy Law unconstitutional. So it needs to be challenged as a violation of due process, which requires all crimes to be clearly defined. Laws cannot be so vague as to leave the accused unsure of what conduct is allowed or prohibited.

How would one possibly know if they are wounding the feelings of Islamic persons? How would they know if they are defaming the Prophet Muhammad? What if the speech was truthful and directed at the Quran for having demonstrably false entries? Would this be defiling the Quran? Would it be defamatory?

Pakistan, a nation with a large Muslim majority (97%), needs to change and allow religious tolerance. While it is hard to control 176 million people, they must engage in an educational campaign to tone down the madness. Once tempers have calmed down, they  must either repeal the Blasphemy law, or amend it, to grant due process, by narrowing definitions of what may be deemed illegal.

04/14/2011

French Ban On Veils Violates Treaty

Although France historically separated church and state, they are now fighting a growing Muslim influence, by banning women from wearing veils in public places. The new law may violate not only the French Constitution, but also Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) (1950), and the European Union Treaty (EU) (1992).

A Muslim woman could challenge the French law in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. This is the tribunal for the 46 countries that signed the ECHR. The treaty provides: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” including the right “to manifest his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”

The treaty also says: “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations, as are prescribed by law, and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others” (Art. 9). The treaty issue would be whether the law is needed for public safety?

The law could also be challenged in the national courts of France. French courts are not however like their American counterparts, where a judge may declare a law unconstitutional. French judges do not have the power to overturn a legislative act. The French do, however, have a Constitutional Council, that reviews legislation to determine if it conforms to their constitution. If the Council deems the law constitutional, and a court then finds the defendant guilty of violating it, there is still another court that may review it.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg serves as the tribunal for the 27-member European Union. For the case to be reviewed there, the defendant would have to ask the French court to submit the issue to the ECJ. They have no obligation to do so. While some European high courts have referred cases to the ECJ, France has not been one of them. If France referred the issue, the ECJ could declare the French law incompatible with the EU treaty, which is partly based on respect for fundamental rights.

This issue reminds me of Catholic nuns in the U.S. who would cover their bodies in black robes. We in America could never tell them how to dress. France needs to treat the Muslim veil issue the same way.

04/13/2011

Gaza and Israel: What’s It All About?

The news again reported that Israeli aircraft and tanks pounded the Gaza Strip in response to a Palestinian rocket attack on an Israeli bus. Although we have heard this kind of news for the past 63 years, many still have no idea why the Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting each other for so long.

The Gaza Strip and Israel both occupy an area in the Mideast that was previously known as Palestine. It was ruled for 400 years by the Turkish Ottoman Empire (1518-1918). In WWI, as the Turks were about to surrender, former British Prime Minister Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration, in which he promised to give the Jewish people a national homeland in Palestine, even though the overwhelming majority of people living there were Arabs (1917).

After Turkey surrendered, the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to govern Palestine (1920). The English in turn gave the Jews of Europe permission to settle among the Arabs of Palestine. As the percentage of Jews in Palestine rose from 11% in 1922 to 29% in 1939, opposition from the Arab Muslims grew.

After WWII, upon the disclosure of the atrocities against the Jews in Europe, momentum developed for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. The UN partitioned the British mandate in Palestine into two areas, one Jewish, and one Arab (1947). The Palestinians however rejected it, and a civil war began (1947-48).

As the British were about to leave Palestine, Israel declared independence, and triggered the 1st Arab-Israeli War (1948-49). The Arab countries around Palestine tried to stop the creation of Israel, but failed. Israel seized land that had been assigned to the Arabs and made refugees out of 700,000 Palestinians. Following the 1949 Armistice, the UN recognized Israel as a nation-state, but many Arabs refused to acknowledge the new country. After another Arab-Israeli War (1967), Israel built settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, in violation of several UN Resolutions.

Progress was made later as self-rule was granted in Gaza (1993) and Israel transferred some control to the Palestinian National Authority (1994). Although Israel later re-entered Gaza during an Intifada (1999-00), they withdrew again when Mahmud Abbas was elected Palestinian Authority president (2005).

Israel however continued to confine the Palestinians of Gaza by maintaining strict controls over their maritime, air, and land borders. One major complaint today is that the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza are effectively prisoners in their own land. The border controls have made their economy desperate at times, which explains why the Palestinians continue to lash out at Israel.

Another complaint is the refusal of Israel to let the Palestinians choose their own leaders, without consequence. When elections were held in 2006, Hamas won, but Israel refused to accept the outcome, even though the process was free, fair and democratic.

Over the last 40 years, the UN Security Council has not acted to correct the situation, because the Israeli lobby controls the U.S. Congress, through campaign contributions supplied by special interest groups. The U.S. vetoed 42 UN Resolutions critical of Israel since 1972, and there is little hope the U.S.-Israeli arrangement will change any time soon. Even the 911 attacks, which were the direct result of the unconditional U.S. support for Israel, did not wake up the American public.

So the violence in the Middle East continues. Disproportionate air and ground attacks are made in response to occasional rocket fire from Gaza, and nothing ever changes. Hopefully, someday, the people in the Mideast themselves will see that the tactics of the past have not worked, and that they need a new approach.

04/05/2011

Koran, Bibles and Book-Burning

While the confused Newt Gingrich worried recently the U.S. could become an atheist country dominated by radical Islam, an extremist pastor in Florida conducted a Koran burning, which caused Muslim mobs in Afghanistan to kill westerners.

I don’t know who is crazier: Gingrich, the pastor, or the Muslims?

While it’s not likely the U.S. will become atheist any time soon, it wouldn’t be so bad. How many Atheists have conducted book-burnings, or have rioted because of one? As to their cousin, the Agnostic, there again wouldn’t be anything to worry about, since they just ask questions and admit they don’t know. Is that so bad?

Fortunately, non-believers have the Constitution to protect them against radicals like Gingrich and the pastor, who apparently would create a Christian nation. The founders wanted to avoid the religious wars that wrecked Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries. They separated religion from state, as they wrote: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the U.S.” (Art. VI). They added in the 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” They also gave people like the demented Florida pastor a Free Speech right to burn the Koran, a right that would also apply to Bible-burning.

What is hard to understand is why anyone would want to burn a holy book, and why book-burning would be taken so seriously that it would cause innocent people to die. The Koran and the Bible are just books. The first Bible was not printed until Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1456. When the Prophet Muhammad founded Islam in the 7th Century, there were no printed books. The same was true when Christianity started. And much of what is contained in the holy books wasn’t even written, until years after the alleged events.

The Florida pastor, Newt and the Muslims should all reflect upon the origins of their beliefs. Did they research religion and pick the one that made the most sense? Not likely. They probably inherited their beliefs from their family, or perhaps their culture. The beliefs of most people are consistent with those of their culture. This is why Mexicans are Catholic; Chinese are Buddhists; Indians are Hindus; Israelis are Jews; and Saudi Arabians are Muslims. Have you ever met a Saudi Arabian Lutheran?

Religion is like language. I speak English, because I was raised in Wisconsin. The people of France speak French, and those in Italy speak Italian. Like language, people inherit religion. The point is, if you were born in the U.S., you were probably raised Christian. If you were born in Afghanistan, you are most likely a Muslim. That’s just the way it is, and it is simply not worth a book-burning, or a riot that leads to death.

03/18/2011

Afghanistan: Spending For What?

The Republican-controlled House voted 321-93 against a resolution calling for an Afghanistan troop withdrawal and a reduction in our wasteful federal spending. Only 8 Republicans voted to cut the budget by reducing discretionary appropriations for that optional war.

Has the conflict in Afghanistan become a permanent part of our budget? Do we plan to fight there forever? What is our goal in that mountainous landlocked Asian state?

Are we there to find Osama bin Laden and those involved in 911? That would be acceptable, if they were still alive, and we knew where they were. After 10 years of searching, perhaps it is time to give that approach a rest. It hasn’t worked.

I hope our goal is not to change their religion. 99% of Afghans were Muslim when President Bush invaded, and nothing our military has done, or will do, will ever change that. We cannot prohibit the use the Koran. We can’t stop Mullahs from interpreting Islamic law. We cannot change their culture by force.

Russia tried to promote a secular government, but the Muslims revolted. The Soviets invaded, because they feared an Islamic regime, like the one that emerged in neighboring Iran (1979). For 10 years, the Mujahedeen waged a guerilla war against 115,000 Russian troops, until Gorbachev finally gave up (1989). In the civil war that followed, the Mujahedeen, later known as the Taliban, ousted the secular government (1992). After more bloodshed, they imposed a harsh Islamic theology (1996). The Soviet effort made the question of religion worse, not better.

Is our goal is to create permanent bases? That isn’t going to work. Afghanistan has a long history of resisting foreign intervention. British troops tried to occupy Afghanistan in the 19th Century, but they were massacred in Kabul and eventually gave up.

I hope our objective is not to starve out our perceived enemies with sanctions. Following the 1998 bombings against U.S. embassies in Africa, President Clinton launched air strikes against suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan in an effort to get them to surrender bin Laden, but that did not work, and when the Taliban was accused of sheltering and training terrorists, sanctions were imposed, but they also yielded no results.

Finally, I hope we do not seriously expect a military victory. There never will be a Victory over Afghanistan Day. Thousands of unshaven men are not suddenly going to emerge from their caves carrying white flags with their hands up.

When Bush invaded Afghanistan, the UN refused to authorize the American war, because there was no evidence anyone there had anything to do with 911 and no proof U.S. forces would be acting in self-defense.

The Taliban has pledged there will be no peace, until the foreigners leave. Ho Chi Minh said something strikingly similar. It’s time to bring our boys home. It’s time to regroup and save our resources for a winnable mission.